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The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, on Thursday, launched the Tertiary Institutions Entrepreneurship Scheme (TIES), an intervention aimed at tackling underemployment and unemployment among Nigerian youth.

At the launch of the scheme in Abuja, Emefiele also presented cheques ranging from N4.1-N5 million to graduate entrepreneurs whose proposals were found worthy of CBN’s financing under the pilot scheme.

Emefiele said TIES was conceived as part of measures to promote entrepreneurship development among Nigerian graduates and undergraduates, with the release of the implementation guidelines and the opening of a portal for submission of applications in October 2021.

“The scheme, developed in partnership with Nigerian polytechnics and universities, is designed to harness the potentials of graduate entrepreneurs by creating a paradigm shift from the pursuit of white-collar jobs to a culture of entrepreneurship for economic development and job creation,” he said.

“Bridging their financing gaps and enhancing access to low-cost credit to drive development of business is a task that can only be addressed by an innovative financing model that correlates with the complexity and dynamics of these small businesses.”

According to him, the TIES consisted of three main components– the term loan, the equity investment and the development grant component.

While the term loan component provides direct credit opportunities to graduates of Nigerian polytechnics and universities of not more than seven years post-graduation; the equity investment component is designed to support start-ups, existing businesses requiring expansion, and ailing businesses seeking resuscitation.

The third one – developmental grant component – is aimed at raising awareness and visibility of entrepreneurship among undergraduates of Nigerian tertiary institutions.

Under this component, Emefiele explained that polytechnics and universities in the country will compete in a national biennial entrepreneurship competition where undergraduates are presented by the tertiary institutions to pitch innovative entrepreneurial or technological ideas with transformational potential.

He insisted that the grant awards should be used by the tertiary institutions solely for the development of the award-winning ideas.

At the ceremony, the CBN governor also inaugurated a body of experts (BoE) to oversee the screening of prospective beneficiaries of the scheme.

The body, chaired by Abubakar Suleiman, the group managing director/chief executive, Sterling Bank Plc, among other professionals, seeks to evaluate and rank entrepreneurial presentations made by the tertiary institutions under the development grant component.

Other members include Patrick Iyamabo, group chief financial officer, First Bank; Adamu Lawani, general manager, Zenith Bank; Ngover Ihyembe-Nwankwo, general manager, Coverage Rand Merchant Bank Nigeria; Ashafa Ladan (National Universities Commission); Abbati D.K. Muhammad (National Board for Technical Education); Friday Okpara of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN).

Bolanle Adekoya, a partner at PwC Nigeria; Tope Fasua, chief executive officer of Global Analytics Consulting Limited; Folusho Oyinlola, (National Defence College); and Temitope Akin-Fadeyi, associate head, strategy & policy development finance department, CBN, who acts as the body’s secretary, make up the 11-member committee.

Also speaking at the launch, Boss Mustapha, the secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), urged tertiary institutions to deploy merit in the selection of the proposed beneficiaries of the scheme as well as monitor key performance indicators as applications are submitted.

Represented by Olakunle Fashina, director, public affairs and bilateral relations, office of the SGF, Mustapha said not only would the TIES boost economic growth and reduce graduate unemployment but it would also provide well-grounded incentives for the ever-growing graduate population.

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